Does 3 John 1:2 teach that believers will prosper and be healthy?

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This is my third post in a series on frequently twisted passages.  Today’s passage is going to blow your mind.  This will likely be a very short post in fact, I don’t think I can ramble on too much about it.  It almost doesn’t even need to be put into context.

What we are looking at is the second verse of John’s third epistle.  Take a look and see for yourself.

 

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 KJV 

 

This verse above is used by prosperity preachers all the time.  The idea that the frame it in is that God wants you and me to prosper in all things and be healthy.  See right there?  The verse above is promising this to everyone, if you only have enough faith that means you can claim it and receive it.

Of course, that also means that if you or a loved one is poor or has cancer then you don’t have enough faith do you?  In fact, since salvation is by faith then according to this theology anyone with poverty or cancer is totally going to hell.  Are you really going to tell that to a cancer patient?  Of course not, as soon as these TV preachers get their check they don’t care how this theology impacts you or your loved ones.

To very quickly dispel this myth I am going to put the verse back in it’s context.

 

“1 The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.; 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:1-2 KJV 

 

Well right off the bat it’s pretty obvious that St. John is talking to Gaius.  No joke, isn’t that embarrassing?  In this case the greeting to an epistle is being eisegeted by the prosperity preachers.  This is so laughable it is a parody of itself!  Even if you are going to insist there is a prosperity and health promise in this verse that can be claimed, the only one it applies to is Gaius.

That doesn’t even work either though, if you understand the old english words properly they don’t even carry a financial blessing.  The word “prosper” in the King James simply means a general wish of good fortune, see for yourself:

 

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. ; 2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:1-2 ESV 

 

The greeting we see here is not unlike those we wish for the health and good fortunes of our family members during the holiday season.  It’s like saying “hey!  I hope you’re doing alright”.  That’s it…

Notice in one of Paul’s epistles he acknowledges the medical condition plaguing Timothy.  Let’s see what he directs Timothy to do:

 

“23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” 1 Tim 5:23 KJV 

 

Was Timothy told to “name it and claim it”?  Should we call Timothy’s faith into question, or the ability of God to give him faith (Eph 2:8) based on the fact that he is sick?  Of course not, Timothy is simply sick.  We can pray and ask for a miracle with humility and fear.  We can seek medical attention.  But we do not have the power to command God to heal us or make us rich.

This is what Luther called a theology of glory, it is man reaching to religion to better himself.  Seek instead what Luther called the theology of the cross, this means studying the Bible looking for Jesus and what he did.  He died for you to save you.  That is all you need, it doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, healthy, or sick.  On the last day of your life you leave your flesh and possessions behind.

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About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
This entry was posted in Armchair Lounge, Frequently Twisted Passages and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Does 3 John 1:2 teach that believers will prosper and be healthy?

  1. moses asante says:

    Wooow, I have been struggling to understand this scripture. But its clear to me now. God bless you Andreola

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  2. Wow! Great post. Can i reblog this with a direct link to your site?
    I blog at http://www.topmosttree.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Achie says:

    In at a loss trying to understand your post. Do you in anyway deny that Gods design is for his children to prosper and be in health? If that prayer can only hold for Gaius then the book of Corinthians was written to the Corinthian Church, and we today have no business claiming any profit in it for ourselves. A christian can fall sick or be poor but that is in no way Gods design. I agree with you though that being poor or getting cancer does not mean one doesn’t have faith because God dealt with every one of us Christians the measure of faith.(Rom 12:3) And it does matter if you are poor or sick. Are you saying its OK to stay sick as a christian because you are saved? How are we to take yhe gospel to the ends of the world if we remain sick and poor? When in fact Jesus bore all our infirmities including whatever sickness or poverty that afflicts a lot of christian? ….” With his stripes we were healed”.(Isiah53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). The work of Christ on the cross for us was not only for our salvation but also for our freedom from sickness and poverty. I’ve learnt a great deal from most of your post but I beg to differ on this one.

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    • ACTheologian says:

      1) I am not saying God never heals or blesses his children. I’m simply saying this isn’t the force and we’re not a Jedi.

      We cannot wield Gods power. Pray in humble submission and ask for what it is you need or want. Your daily bread.

      Keep in mind that for the first three centuries being a Christian was a death sentence. The martyr’s were more faithful, pious, and Godly than any Christian today and they lived in poverty and persecution.

      2) Your point on Gaius and Corinthians misses a few things. For example, there are many teachings in Corinthians that speak to and universally apply to everyone and all believers. And there are things in the Corinthians that only apply to them. You have to discern such things exegetically, look at the addressee look at the context. Here is a pro tip. In the King James thee and thou only addresses the individual or group present in the narrative and ye means “you” in a broad sense.

      3) I am mocking the belief that healing and blessing is contingent upon and accessible by the faith of the believer. It is God’s sovereign free will and power that determines such things. You and I are not in the council of the Triune God. He doesn’t answer to us, we petition him in prayer and trust his will either way.

      4) the early church proclaimed the gospel all over the classical world and they were very poor and being murdered. So, with respect I reject the way you have framed your argument here.

      5) so you’re saying by his stripes we are healed is carnal? This is a promise to heal from physical disease? What about sin and death?

      See you can’t have both.

      So called faith healers are hit or miss. You have better odds in Vegas. So basically you’re saying Jesus ability to cover our sins is hit or miss too?

      If not how do you exegetically distinguish the efficacy from the means?

      I think you missed the punchline in those verses friend. They are about Jesus saving you from hell. And that is not contingent upon you and I but on him. Faith is a Gift of God given by means (Eph 2:8-)(Rom 10:17).

      Man cannot muster or build his faith. Only God can give it to man.

      Final Thoughts:

      I recommend you take a look at my series on cessationism. The Bible teaches that the gift of healing through a human agent has ceased. Keep in mind, I am not saying that God doesn’t heal anymore. That said, it isn’t like what we see in the apostolic age as those gifts have ceased entirely. Read and see for yourself.

      https://actheologian.com/armchair-lounge/heresy-and-heterodoxy/cessationism/

      Hey, thanks for reading and commenting. Please don’t interpret my Frank responses as contempt. I speak plainly because I care.

      God Bless

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  4. Pingback: The Selfishness Of The Prosperity Gospel – matthew cailes online

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